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Aleka Potinga: Romania: Songs Of Love And Longing

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Aleka Potinga: Romania: Songs Of Love And Longing
You can take singer/cellist Aleka Potinga out of Romania, but you cannot take Romania out of her musical soul. Classically trained in Bucharest, and Dublin-based since 2012, Potinga has slotted into the city's fluid jazz/improvised music scenes, working with Izumi Kimura, Ronan Guilfoyle , Tommy Halferty and Cello Ireland. Her debut album Person I Knew (Self-Produced, 2019) featured imaginative interpretations of modern jazz classics by Wayne Shorter, Thelonious Monk and Bill Evans. Prior to that, her debut EP Aleka (EM, 2016) included a haunting reading of Nick Drake's "Riverman," and "Song," a beautiful Romanian title from the film Parasutistii (1972).

Half a dozen years later, Potinga dives deeper into her Romanian heritage, on a program that draws from traditional Romanian folk songs. Once again, Potinga looks to her long-term musical collaborator Chris Guilfoyle, with drummer Matthew Jacobson and bassist Barry Donohue rounding out the quartet.

Potinga delivers her native folk melodies with ethereal charm—too bad there are no translations for the lyrics—transitioning into wordless improvisations that glide and then soar. Clearly, the singer feels these folk songs in her marrow, but she is not bound by them, releasing potent vocal flights that owe as much to alt rock as jazz. A good example is "Mociriță Cu Trifoi," where she leads her trio from wistful pastures marked by subtle gestures to more rugged terrain where Guilfoyle's electric guitar fairly romps.

The slow burning "Până Când Nu Te Iubeam" does not deviate too far from its dreamy Eastern folk contours but ascends nevertheless to potent heights. Donohue's electric bass is to the fore, though it is Jacobson's slow, mantra-like beat and Guilfoyle's restraint that frame Potinga's beguiling vocals. Greater collective energy drives "Trece-un Nouraş Pe Sus," [see YouTube video below], as Potinga artfully blurs the borders between folk, jazz and rock.

Potinga revisits "Song" from her first EP. Note for note, or so it seems, it replicates the original, with bass ostinato, cello melody and towards the end, ambient soundscaping accompanying Potinga's softly alluring spell. But there is one itch to scratch; Why stop at four tracks, twenty all-too-quick minutes and an EP? With three or four more songs—and Romania surely boasts an abundance of folk tunes—we would have had an album to get really excited about. Still, let us be thankful for small treasures.

Track Listing

Mociriță Cu Trifoi ; Până Când Nu Te Iubeam ; Trece-un Nouraş Pe Sus ; Song.

Personnel

Additional Instrumentation

Aleka Potinga: cello.

Album information

Title: Romania: Songs Of Love And Longing | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Self Produced


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